Tuesday, June 25, 2019

U.S. Energy Department Adopts Blockchain to Prevent Power Plant Cyberattacks


Content stored on the blockchain cannot be changed easily and it is not centrally controlled. That being the case, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a US Energy Department is collaborating with Taekion, a Colorado-based blockchain company. The duo are taking advantage of these two features of the blockchain in order to prevent power plant cyber attacks, according to NETL’s publication on April 10.

NETL and Taekion are in the Second Phase of an Electic Grid Security project

Per the report, NETL and Taekion are in the second phase of an electric grid security project. In this second phase, Taekion intends to store data pertaining to power plants on the blockchain in order to prevent manipulation. The data will include actuator, sensor, and device transactions.

According to NETL, the aim of using blockchain technology is due to the fact that it is distributed ledger technology. That is to say, content is not centrally controlled, but it is stored in more than one location and can be accessed by a group of individuals in real time. Its decentralized nature also ensures that there is no single point of failure. Moreover, it is an immutable storage which will prevent the stored data from being compromised.

According to NETL:

Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security… Other applications under development in this project will enable secure energy transactions to protect process data at power generation facilities as well as increase grid reliability and integrate a more decentralized energy infrastructure

Electricity Security Grid Project was Funded with $1 Million

NETL further outlined that the electric grid security project was funded with $1 million. It also made reference to the compromised data of a power system in Ukraine in 2016. In this case, the system’s operational information had been manipulated in order not to report the error that had occurred and as such, it gave cybercrime actors the gateway to make manipulations. The hack led to a blackout in millions of home.

That being the case, the potential for such attacks to occur in the applications being developed in the NETL-managed project will be eliminated. It will prevent hackers from manipulating the machine’s operational information.

NETL’s need to bring about data integrity can be likened to other companies that have adopted blockchain technology. It is either used to monitor the supply chain of food stuffs, drugs, equipment etc. It is also used to store digital certificates that can be accessed anywhere across the world.

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